'This is a step in the right direction': GCPD speaks on arrest in Ernie Ortiz murder case
WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) - On September 12th, it will be the fourth year anniversary of Ernie Ortiz’s murder.
The Garden City restaurant owner was shot outside his business and to this day his death still looms over the city.
“It was definitely one that has hung over because when you consider the totality of everything," explained Garden City Police Department Public Safety Administrative Assistant Erinn Reyes. She said Ortiz, "was very much a beloved citizen of this community.”
His case had gone cold until a potential chance for justice on Wednesday.
GCPD announced that Samantha Smith was arrested by US Marshals in South Carolina and is facing charges for first degree murder and aggravated robbery for the death of Ortiz.
Reyes said his death, “has been our most high profile murder case in recent history."
GCPD has been in close contact with the Ortiz family since Ernie's death according to Reyes. She says it was even one of the Kansas Department of Corrections’s cold case playing cards.
She says the department never gives up on cold cases.
"We keep investigating those. We don't just shove them away in a, in a filing cabinet and for them to collect dust. We, we keep them active, we keep them fresh."
Reyes said there is still a lot of work left for the department with this case but having a suspect after nearly four years is an important breakthrough.
"We cannot bring Ernie back, we know that, but this is a step in the right direction."
Reyes said they are waiting to find out when Smith will be sent back to Finney county.